Sunday, August 24, 2008


As I walked home from the store this morning, a little boy about three years old jumped out onto the sidewalk to block my path. He was a cute enough kid: blond hair, blue eyes, rosy cheeks. But there was something about his wild grin that suggested all was not well.

The boy stayed in front of me as I feinted left and right. I showed off some fancy footwork and dodged around him to keep walking. He giggled, and I thought that was the end of our game. But it wasn't. I clicked off my iPod when I heard the flap flap flap of his footsteps behind me.

That was when his mother started hollering, "Joseph! Get back here!" Lank blonde hair, dangling cigarette, yesterday's sweatsuit, everyday bitterness.

I spun around with some menacing monster claws, but that didn't deter Joseph. He grabbed for them. I waved and turned my back and kept on going. Joseph followed me the length of the block, not speaking, just dogging my steps like a puppy hopeful of more playtime. His mother continued to bitch in their driveway.

Joseph caught up to me at the corner, all but wagging. Listening to the woman bark at the boy, it wasn't hard to guess what possessed him to follow a stranger so eagerly, without looking back. It made me sad to tell him he'd better go on home. And it made me worry: How far will Joseph follow the next person who's nice to him for half a second?



  • EEEK! My crystal ball does not see good times for Joseph ahead...

    By Blogger Collette, at 3:46 PM  

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